What to Do if You Cheat on the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP)

What to do if you cheat on the autoimmune protocol (AIP)…if you find yourself falling off of the AIP wagon, here are some tips to help you get back on!

The autoimmune protocol is most effective when it is followed strictly 100% of the time.  However, if you accidentally, or purposely, find yourself with non-autoimmune protocol foods in your mouth, I’ve got your back. 

Offer Yourself Understanding, Love, Support, and Forgiveness

Okay, so you fell off the AIP wagon.

You are only human.

It is okay.

Let it go.  Stressing yourself out and beating yourself up will only make matters worse. 

You cannot go back and un-eat whatever you wished you never ate.  Take a deep breath, then take a minute to:

Understand why you did it

Understanding the why will help you better understand the challenges you are facing, which will allow you to identify any changes to make moving forward. 

For example, were you emotionally eating?  If so, it’s time to find a healthier coping mechanism, and/or work through any trauma that needs addressing.

Offer yourself lots of love and support

You are not a failure.  Beating yourself up will only make matters worse, and will most likely increase stress.  Stress is typically an autoimmune trigger on its own, so don’t even go there.

Instead, offer yourself lots of love and support.  Talk to yourself as you would talk to your loved one or a child.  Give yourself a big hug, and encourage yourself to get back up and try again. 

Forgive yourself

We really can be our own worst enemy.  Keep the big picture in mind, and realize this is not a big deal in the scheme of things.  It’s not.  So, forgive yourself, and move forward.

Remember that your children are watching you, and will learn more from your example than any words that ever come out of your mouth.  If you are hard on yourself, they will most likely learn to be hard on themselves.  I know from experience.  Turn things around and show them through your example how to lovingly forgive themselves. 

Give Yourself Credit For Everything You Are Doing Right

Do you even know how freaking amazing you are?!  You really are!

You do SO much right! 

You’ve come so far!

You’ve been through SO much and are still standing!

Recognize every single effort you are making, celebrate every little success, and own your story (the good and the not so good)!

If this is something you struggle with, tonight I challenge you to write down 10 things you did today (big or small) that you can be proud of. Repeat every night for as long as it takes for you to habitually recognize your own awesomeness!

Know You Are Not Alone

You are not alone.  You really aren’t. I regularly receive DMs on Instagram from our autoimmune sisters opening up to me about how they fell off the AIP wagon and are now struggling with autoimmune symptoms.  In a panic, they ask me for advice…which is actually what inspired this blog post and video!

The autoimmune protocol is hard to adjust to.  It requires breaking bad habits and developing new habits.  Both of which can be ALL kinds of difficult. Especially when you are not feeling well to begin with.  So please know you are not alone if you are struggling.

And please know there is no limit to the number of times you can start or restart the autoimmune protocol! If you need a dose of daily support or motivation, you can find me here on Instagram where I share daily Monday through Saturday.

Think of Your Symptoms As Feedback

Okay, so you stopped eating AIP for a meal or a day or a week or however long, and your autoimmune symptoms returned with a vengeance.  Autoimmune symptoms suck.  There’s no way around it.  However, it can be incredibly empowering to think of autoimmune symptoms as feedback. 

For example, if you fell off of the AIP wagon, some questions you may want to consider are:

What did you eat, and what symptoms returned?

Are the symptoms as bad as they were prior to starting AIP?

How long after eating non-AIP did the symptoms take to reappear?

How long did the symptoms take to go away after restarting AIP?

Try to spin this whole experience into something positive…now you know or are reminded of how much better you feel when you eat clean and focus on meat, veggies, fats, and some fruits.  That’s pretty awesome feedback, if you ask me!

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

One of the coolest things water does in our body is it removes waste and flushes toxins! 

So grab your favorite water bottle, and fill ‘er up! 

Focus on drinking plenty of clean water.  Aim to drink at least half of your body weight in water each day.

Allow Yourself Time to Rest

Your body needs time to rest and recover when autoimmune symptoms flare.  Remember, the symptoms are feedback, and it’s up to us to listen.  So, cancel what plans you can, let the dishes sit, ignore the piles of laundry, and allow yourself time to rest. 

I don’t know about you, but pushing and pushing my body for years got me nowhere I ever want to be again.  So take the time today to rest, in hopes you will feel better tomorrow.  Take it one day at a time. This is not a race. This is the rest of your life.

Communicate with Your Loved Ones

Ugh.  This one is STILL hard for me when I flare.  To me, it feels like how nails on a chalkboard sound when I realize I need to tell my husband I am unwell, and need to cut back or cancel plans.  Especially since it so rarely happens anymore.  However, he needs to know so he can best support and understand me.

When communicating with your loved ones, try to think of specific ways they can help you, and dig deep to summon the courage to ask for help.  Keep in mind, they love you.  They want to be there for you.  But they most likely do not know how.  So tell them how they can help you, and express appreciation and love for their support.

Practice Self-Care

Practice loads of self-care.  Need some self-care ideas?  No worries, I’ve got your back.  I wrote a blog post and created a YouTube video all about self-care for autoimmune flares.  You can read my post here and/or watch my video here.

Also, when thinking about self-care, also consider essential oils.  When experience digestive discomfort, a digestive blend of essential oils is a game changer for me!  Also, when experiencing anxiety, my go to essential oils are Frankincense and Lavender.  There are so many essential oil options that can help to take the edge off of autoimmune symptoms.

Consider AIP Friendly “Cheats”

Did you know there are many AIP treats and cheats?  Both already packaged and recipes for you to make your own.

Sometimes we just need to retrain our brain to think outside the box.  If you are on AIP, you can still “cheat”.  Just cheat with AIP approved comfort foods and desserts.

My favorite source for homemade AIP comfort foods and cheats is Michelle Hoover of Unbound Wellness.  She offers many free resources on her website, and I LOVE her new cookbook, The Autoimmune Protocol Comfort Foods Cookbook.  My favorite recipe is her Mongolian Beef – it tastes just like a cheat meal to me!

As far as my favorite AIP dessert cheats, I LOVE Paleo On the Go’s Carob and Cream Vanilla cake, Carob Chunk Cookies, and Mint Cookies (use code SHANNA for $15 off any order)!  I also love Jack’s Paleo Kitchen Snickerdoodle Cookies

There are also many AIP snacks you can use as cheats, like cassava chips or plantain chips which you can enjoy with some homemade AIP guacamole!  You can find more AIP snack ideas here.

Consider Reintroductions

How long ago did you start AIP?  It may be time to consider some reintroductions!

Reintroductions can add increased variety, not to mention nutrient density.

Remember, the AIP elimination phase is not meant to be a long-term diet.  Did you fall off the AIP wagon because you are ready to spice things up?  If so, start working on some reintroductions once your symptoms are cleared up again.

Reach Out For Support

Please know I am cheering you on SO loud!  I love and accept you exactly the way you are!

You are trying your best, and change is stinkin’ hard.

You are SO strong, and I believe in you 100%!

This life is not easy, but finding JOY while living well with autoimmune disease IS possible!

Big hugs!

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